Napa wine’s biggest philanthropic party, Auction Napa Valley, is going even bigger this year, marking its 2019 return with appearances by singer Katy Perry and chef Ayesha Curry.
One of the flagship events of the Napa Valley Vintners, the 2019 Auction also rings in the group’s 75th year as the local wine industry’s main trade association. The NVV announced in March the addition of Perry and Curry at this year’s event, slated for the weekend of May 30-June 2.
Perry, one of the best-selling music artists of all time who serves as a judge on “American Idol,” will take the stage to lead off the weekend’s main event, the live auction on Saturday, June 1 at Meadowood resort. She will play a short set of songs in the auction tent before the bidding begins.
The Vintners’ contact with Perry came through one of the group’s members, said NVV communications director Korinne Munson. “We were lucky to have a connection to her through a vintner. Then we had to make our case and it wasn’t easy.”
While generally catered toward the wealthy, with ticket prices for Saturday’s live auction beginning at $2,000 per person, Auction’s proceeds have been channeled into meeting Napa County needs, including wellness programs. All told, the event has reeled in around $185 million for various nonprofits focused on children’s education and community health in the county.
“(Perry) is not participating because we’re paying her the big bucks,” Munson added. “She’s participating because of the very real philanthropic benefits.”
Adding to the weekend’s celebrity draw, chef Ayesha Curry, who last year offered a live lot for the auction through her Napa brand Domaine Curry, will play a more front-and-center role this year, providing Saturday’s after-auction dinner alongside other chefs from the Michael Mina family. More music – not from Perry – will follow the auction and dinner.
The inclusion of Perry and Curry this year may help lure potential bidders away from contending high-profile wine auctions like the Naples Winter Wine Festival or the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. “It’s a crowd that is used to a lot from us,” Munson said. “There’s a lot of competition out there.”
Even with Perry headlining, ticket prices have not gone up this year, Munson added.
Also on the weekend’s program is the Friday Barrel Auction at the newly renovated Louis M. Martini winery. The winery’s namesake owner Louis Martini was one of the NVV’s founding members. At $500 per person, the barrel auction is the lowest-priced event of the weekend and tends to draw the largest crowds.
To help mark the 75th year of the NVV, a mix of former chairpersons from the NVV’s Board of Directors will share emcee duties, as opposed to one chairperson or chairpersons from an NVV family, as in years prior.
Auction is no stranger to celebrities, having drawn high-profile attendees over the years including then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2017. The Coppola family, of filmmaking and Inglenook-owning fame, chaired the Auction events together that same year.
But above all the glitz each year is ultimately the giving. “The mandate for (Auction) has always been that the money does not leave the Napa Valley,” Munson said. “It’s supposed to go directly back to the community from American Canyon to Calistoga.”